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Telling Blow (PHB2) Question


D&D 3.5/d20/OGL

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

This feat allows a character to add their sneak attack damage to any critical strike they deal with their weapon, whether the attack was a sneak attack or not.

My question is: If a rogue with this feat does deliver a successful sneak attack AND scores a critical hit, does he get to add his sneak attack twice (once for the sneak attack and again for the crit)? My gut instinct is to say "yes" but I wondered if anyone had an official ruling (or at least prior experience) to say otherwise. Feedback is, as always, much appreciated. Thanks!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

FS, the PH (p. 50) says:
"Should the rogue score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied."

Additionally, the Telling Blow description also says:
"Your critical multiplier applies only to your normal damage, not your skirmish or sneak attack damage."

So, no. It's interesting that it DOESN'T mention a ninja's sudden strike ability. Generally, I thought that bonus damage dice were never multiplied on a critical hit.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

I think I may have worded my query poorly. My question is this:

A 10th level rogue (with +5d6 sneak attack) gets the drop on someone and catches them flat-footed with his attack. He has the Telling Blow feat and scores a critical hit on the attack. Does he only get one instance of Sneak Attack (i.e. he must 'choose' to deal either Sneak Attack or Telling Blow damage, even though they are equal) or does the attack deal +10d6 damage (since Sneak Attack AND Telling Blow would apply) in addition to the weapon's normal critical damage (whatever that may be)?

I know that extra damage from Sneak Attack is never multiplied on a critical hit, but Telling Blow basically says "all crits also add sneak attack in addition to normal critical damage, even if the opponent is not flat-footed or flanked."

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

ericthecleric wrote:
So, no. It's interesting that it DOESN'T mention a ninja's sudden strike ability. Generally, I thought that bonus damage dice were never multiplied on a critical hit.

I'm pretty sure that in the ninja's Sudden Strike description, it states 'treat Sudden Strike as Sneak Attack for the purpose of feats and prerequisites for prestige classes.' It follows all the same rules except for the fact that an opponent MUST be flat-footed for Sudden Strike to apply (Telling Blow would break this rule, IMO, since it allows Sneak Attack to apply even when it wouldn't normally on critical hits).


Yes, Sudden Strike and Sneak Attack are considered equivalent for the purpose of determining qualification for a feat or PrC.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

OK. What it looks like is that if the rogue scores a critical, sneak attack damage applies (in addition to the normal effects of the critical hit); the opponent doesn't have to be flanked, flat-footed, or have lost his Dex bonus to AC for the sneak attack damage apply. That's pretty nifty!

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

ericthecleric wrote:
OK. What it looks like is that if the rogue scores a critical, sneak attack damage applies (in addition to the normal effects of the critical hit); the opponent doesn't have to be flanked(by the rogue) or have lost his Dex bonus to AC for the sneak attack damage apply. That's pretty nifty!

Yes, that is how the feat functions.

But I understood that part already. What I want to know is: If an attack (with Telling Blow) is BOTH a critical hit AND a sneak attack (i.e. opponent is flat-footed) does the sneak attack damage apply twice?


Had to research that one for my own campaign once. I may have missed something, but I didn't find any indication that the sneak attack damage wouldn't be doubled.

I did a little math, with results suggesting critical sneak attacks would be extremely rare.

With that in mind, I allowed sneak attacks to be doubled. Not long after that, a high-level rogue with multiple attacks and a haste spell did something like 280 points of damage in a single round by multiplying his sneak attack damage. It's never happened since, but it sure was fun that once.


I say yes.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Saern wrote:
I say yes.

Thank you. This is the direction I'm leaning in as well, but I wanted to see some other opinions on the matter.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Fatespinner wrote:
Saern wrote:
I say yes.
Thank you. This is the direction I'm leaning in as well, but I wanted to see some other opinions on the matter.

The Sage says no. I'm tempted to agree, as it could end up being extremely powerful otherwise.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Paz wrote:
Fatespinner wrote:
Saern wrote:
I say yes.
Thank you. This is the direction I'm leaning in as well, but I wanted to see some other opinions on the matter.
The Sage says no. I'm tempted to agree, as it could end up being extremely powerful otherwise.

Hmmm. I understand that it could be a fairly devastating combination, but it seems to me that you are faced with two situations here. I think it's safe to say that if you are playing a character with Sneak Attack, you're going to look to apply that extra damage to your opponents any time you possibly can. Most of the time, the rogue and fighter (or, *shudder*, two rogues) can flank something and Sneak Attack the crap out of it. Since this is the case, if you CANNOT add the Sneak Attack damage twice, Telling Blow seems almost useless unless you have a very high crit-range weapon (+1 keen scimitar, anyone?) and do a lot of toe-to-toe fighting (fighter/rogues would get decent use out of this) without the benefit of a 'flanking buddy.' On the flip side, if you DO allow the Sneak Attack damage to apply twice, then characters with high crit-threat ranges (as above) who DO have the benefit of a 'flanking buddy' will dish out some DEVASTATING damage.

I think I'm looking at making a house rule on this one that, if your opponent is flat-footed, you DO add Sneak Attack twice. If you are merely flanking them, you only get it once. Nit-picky, sure, but at least it makes the feat useful without being hideously overpowered.

I'll still wait to see thoughts from others on this matter. I like the 'feel' of the feat but I think there may need to be some tweakage.


I'd go with no. Like bonuses don;t stack, and this one allows you to do sneak attack damage when you normally could not. Therefore, it would be sneak attack damage x2, which don't stack. At least in my mind.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I believe what the Sage is saying is that taking the Telling Blow feat allows the Rogue to Change the Sneak Attack description in the PHB/SRD from:

"The rogue’s attack deals extra damage any time her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target,"

to:

"The rogue’s attack deals extra damage any time her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), when the rogue flanks her target, or when the rogue scores a critical hit."

If I were to adopt a houserule saying that a rogue who has this feat can double their sneak damage on flanked or flat-footed crit, I would definately add a minimum number of sneak attack damage dice to the prereq's (maybe 10d6 and make them choose between whether to take this or Savvy Rogue at 12th level).

However, I wounldn't add such a houserule. Double sneak attack damage on a critical hit is beyond the boundaries of good taste, IMHO. I mean a 20th Rogue with a Str10 and mundane shortsword who scores a critical hit against a flanked foe would deal 22d6 damage. The expected value on that would be 77 points of damage. On a single hit. Now imagine the Rogue has TWF, ITWF, GTWF, dual rapiers or scimitars and Improved Crit. The damage could be insane.

-Skeld

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Skeld wrote:

However, I wounldn't add such a houserule. Double sneak attack damage on a critical hit is beyond the boundaries of good taste, IMHO. I mean a 20th Rogue with a Str10 and mundane shortsword who scores a critical hit against a flanked foe would deal 22d6 damage. The expected value on that would be 77 points of damage. On a single hit. Now imagine the Rogue has TWF, ITWF, GTWF, dual rapiers or scimitars and Improved Crit. The damage could be insane.

-Skeld

Very good points, Skeld. I hadn't really thought this all the way through yet (hence my posting the question to the boards!) and I appreciate the insight.

In light of this information, I think I will adopt the 'feat changes the PHB/SRD description' rule and that it simply allows sneak attack to apply when scoring crits. In my opinion, this makes the feat a slightly sub-optimal choice, but I can see how it has its uses. Thanks to everyone!


I say no.


In light of all the evidence, I have to say that I'm convinced I was wrong and that it would only be allowed once. Nevertheless, the feat seems far from suboptimal to me.

Contributor

This can be very abused if you allow the double sneak attack damage. Go the safe route and keep these types of attacks separate. The rogue either gets one or the other, but not both.
And even so, it's still an awesome feat and worth taking.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This feat would be handy for letting a Rogue get sneak damage added to ranged attacks on a crit.

The other interesting case I see is a fight between 2 Rogues. An 8th level Rogue can only be flanked by a 12+ level Rogue. Also, an 8th level Rogue can't be caught flat-footed. The only way another Rogue can get sneak damage against our 8th level example is to be a much higher level, or if he is incapacitated (paralyzed, bound, unconscious, etc.). With Telling Blow, he would have a better chance to get some sneaks in.

I'm not sure about this one, but if there are any creatures subject to crits, but not to sneak damage, they could potentially be affected with this feat (no creatures of this type come to mind however). That be a DM ruling.

I see this potentially being a handy feat for a higher level Rogue. It's utility really doesn't take off until the Rogue can make multiple attacks per round (with or without TWF) and keen weapons or improved critical. High AC opponenets, or those that can't be crit'ed will eliminate this feats effectiveness. Also, this feat will give a Rogue a little extra "umph" in situations were flanking is impracticle or impossible.

Juat some thoughts.

-Skeld

Shadow Lodge

No, the damage is not added twice.

In my tabletop game, the rogue has this feat and I have ruled that a sneak attack that becomes a crit does not allow double sneak attack damage because the abilities really do the same thing. Sneak attack presumably allows the rogue to strike at a vital part of the body given that the opponent is off balance or unaware of the rogue (hence the need for "discernable anatomy" and so forth on the target; there needs to be vital areas to strike). Telling Blow indicates that the rogue has the uncanny knack of hitting vital spots when making particulary effective melee attacks. Thus there is no difference in the end result; a vital area was struck, albeit through two different means. It does not make a great deal of sense to apply the damage twice in a sneak attack then, because there isn't really a "doubly vital" area that can be struck.


I'd just look at it the simple way: if you qualified for sneak attack damage in 2 other ways, would you get damage twice? Perhaps if you were both invisible and the target was paralyzed? The feat just opens up a new venue to qualify for sneak attack is all.


The Black Bard wrote:
I'd just look at it the simple way: if you qualified for sneak attack damage in 2 other ways, would you get damage twice? Perhaps if you were both invisible and the target was paralyzed? The feat just opens up a new venue to qualify for sneak attack is all.

Excellent way to sum this up. Thats the line my thoughts run to as well.


Tough call. From what I’ve read on exclusively the way the ability/feat is worded I would rule yes. So in the beginning example the extra damage would be +10d6 (ouch). But with the cheesy factor that could lead to as Skeld first pointed out

Skeld wrote:

However, I wouldn’t add such a houserule. Double sneak attack damage on a critical hit is beyond the boundaries of good taste, IMHO. I mean a 20th Rogue with a Str10 and mundane shortsword who scores a critical hit against a flanked foe would deal 22d6 damage. The expected value on that would be 77 points of damage. On a single hit. Now imagine the Rogue has TWF, ITWF, GTWF, dual rapiers or scimitars and Improved Crit. The damage could be insane.

-Skeld

I would rule no. And thusly would treat it as:

Skeld wrote:

I believe what the Sage is saying is that taking the Telling Blow feat allows the Rogue to Change the Sneak Attack description in the PHB/SRD from:

"The rogue’s attack deals extra damage any time her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target,"

to:

"The rogue’s attack deals extra damage any time her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), when the rogue flanks her target, or when the rogue scores a critical hit."
-Skeld

Making it a houserule if necessary to accomplish fairness (or less cheesiness).


The Sage's ruling doesn't make any sense to me. If the feat wanted to modify the base Sneak Attack rule, it would've said so. But that is not what the feat says.

So, I would allow the Sneak Attack damage twice; except I would look at is allowing Sneak Attack damage once and Telling Blow damage once.

Is it powerful? Yes. But so are a lot of the feats in PH2.

Qadira

Consider the rapier or kukri wielded with either keen or improved Crit.
15-20 crit range. I have dude playing a scout in the game I play in who hits crits about once every other combat. He basically threathens on most of his hits because he has a 15-20 crit range, and he is usually (about 85-90% of the time) able to use his scout ability to hit with his skirmish damage. I can't imagine him hitting every other combat once for a critical with 2X his skirmish damage, that would be Devastating.

FH

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Maybe we should apply the old standard for judging a spell/feat/item to the argument for stacking sneak attack damage. If the feat does allow you to get bonus sneak attack from flanking and critical hits, is there any reason not to take it? If the answer is 'no' then it is too powerful to be used that way.


OK, so i know that I'm a little late into the conversation, but telling blow does absolutely nothing.

I will now just simply copy pasta is so people can understand and see for themselves everything and put this entire debate to rest.

PHB2[page83]: TELLING BLOW: When you score a critical hit against a target, you deal your skirmish or sneak attack damage in "addition" to
the damage from your critical hit. Your critical multiplier
applies only to your normal damage, not your skirmish or
sneak attack damage.

Seems pretty simple yes?

PHB1[page140]: Extra damage over and above a weapon’s normal damage,
such as that dealt by a sneak attack or the special ability of a flaming
sword, is not "multiplied" when you score a critical hit.

From how I see it worded, they literally had forgotten their own ruling in their previous book that when you crit you then add the sneak attack damage after it and you dont need a feat to add that damage to your crits.


Tiertanas wrote:

OK, so i know that I'm a little late into the conversation, but telling blow does absolutely nothing.

I will now just simply copy pasta is so people can understand and see for themselves everything and put this entire debate to rest.

PHB2[page83]: TELLING BLOW: When you score a critical hit against a target, you deal your skirmish or sneak attack damage in "addition" to
the damage from your critical hit. Your critical multiplier
applies only to your normal damage, not your skirmish or
sneak attack damage.

Seems pretty simple yes?

PHB1[page140]: Extra damage over and above a weapon’s normal damage,
such as that dealt by a sneak attack or the special ability of a flaming
sword, is not "multiplied" when you score a critical hit.

From how I see it worded, they literally had forgotten their own ruling in their previous book that when you crit you then add the sneak attack damage after it and you dont need a feat to add that damage to your crits.

The Telling Blow feat actually does do something, it allows you to add SA damage even when you had no buisness doing it in the first place. Take a Rogue that charges and strikes a target. He has no cover, no concealment, isn't attacking the creature flat-footed or flanking or any other way in which SA would apply. He then rolls a nat. 20 and confirms...he would add in his SA damage regardless.

The question is, if he normally would deal SA from Flanking or attacking an unawares opponent or etc AND scores a critical hit, would both apply? The answer is 'No' since SA damage is only applied once per attack (not round or turn mind you, per attack). Basically the feat really benefits from scoring critical hits.

EDIT: This also benefts scouts who might not move (or can't move) on their turn or want to take advantage of the Manyshot feat in which any one of thos attacks that are a Critical instantly trigger the Skrimish damage.

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